A Guide to the Cheapest Way to Send Money to Cambodia

Here’s how you can save money on fees the next time you transfer cash into the country.
A Guide to the Cheapest Way to Send Money to Cambodia

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Sending money to Cambodia could be very difficult, especially when it’s your first time transferring funds into the country.

You may have read online that it’s damn-near impossible to get money into Cambodia, but that’s not always true.

In fact, just because most online service providers don’t offer exchanges from abroad into Cambodian Riel (KHR) doesn’t mean there aren’t workarounds.

You can easily send US Dollars (USD) into a Cambodian bank account in days, hours, or even minutes.

If you want to skip the lengthy breakdown, we’ve found that it’s always a good idea to check the latest rates on Monito, as you may be able to find better deals on international money transfers on its website.

With that said, this guide on sending money to Cambodia will show you what to watch out for, which services are available to you, and which providers we recommend based on your home country bank.

What to Watch Out for When Sending Money to Cambodia

When transferring money into Cambodia, there are some things to consider, which we’ll cover below.

Lack of Cambodian Riel Transfer Options

Unlike when sending money online to other countries around Southeast Asia, when you transfer money online to Cambodia the receiver won’t be able to get KHR.

This means transferring money from abroad into Cambodia can be a bit tricky with services like Xendpay and Wise – not impossible, but tricky.

This is because Xendpay and Wise don’t have KHR listed as an option.

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But all hope is not lost.

Because the USD is widely used throughout Cambodia, you can set that as your receiving currency and then have it deposited into a Cambodian bank account.

However, you can only receive USD if you send from somewhere like Europe, the U.K., or Australia – not from the U.S.

With that said, you can still withdraw and use USD in most places throughout Cambodia, but keep in mind you will probably get KHR back as change for larger notes.

You’ll also need a bank account in one of these countries, which means if you’re from the U.S., it could be more challenging to transfer money into Cambodia.

More about all this later on in the Transfer Options section.

Accessibility

You also need to how your money transfer will reach Cambodia and if you’re in an area that you can access the money.

There are banks and ATM’s in a vast majority of cities and villages in Cambodia.

However, not all banks in the country support online transfers – and you could also be limited by the amount of money you can receive.

Another reason that it’s difficult to receiving money in the country is because Cambodia is on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gray list.

The FATF – an international money-laundering watchdog – put Cambodia on its gray list because of the country’s weak anti-money laundering (AML) efforts.

In response, Cambodian authorities have increased their AML efforts to keep its growing money laundering problem under control.

Exchange Rates

Many banks and online money transfer service providers won’t disclose their exchange rate fees, but mostly all of them charge this kind of fee.

To disclose how much they’re charging, look at the exchange rate they’re offering you on the transfer and then go to XE.com and check the mid-market rates there.

If they’re different, the bank or online service provider is charging you a fee.

As far as I know, Wise is the only company that doesn’t take a cut of the exchange rate. But with that said, they may not be the cheapest option when sending money to Cambodia.

Transfer Fees 

The cost of sending money into Cambodia depends on which of the three transfer fees you pay:

  • fixed fee
  • percentage fee
  • combination of the two

Most off- and online transfer services charge fixed fees, but only some of them will disclose these fees upfront.

Wise Sample Transfer

Wise, for example, shows its fixed fees before you go through with your transfer. However, you will only pay a fixed fee with Wise if you transfer money using your bank account. When using debit or credit cards, you’ll pay a percentage fee.

Brick and mortar banks vary in the fixed fees they charge, but to give you a general idea of how much you could pay in percentage fees, let’s look at Cambodia’s Canadia Bank.

Canadia Bank, for example, charges a fee of anywhere between USD15 to USD100 depending on your transfer amount and the type of currency your transferring.

Percentage Fees

Percentage fees work a little differently. This fee is calculated based on your entire transfer amount.

On all incoming money transfers, Canadia Bank will charge you a fixed fee of 0.10 percent (USD10 minimum).

Wise, on the other hand, doesn’t charge percentage fees when transferring money into Cambodia, but they do charge fees that expats in other parts of Southeast Asia don’t have to worry about – more or these fees in section on Wise.

Combination Fees

Lastly, some banks and online transfer services charge both fixed and percentage fees.

As you’ve seen in the example above, Canadia Bank is one of them. In fact, most banks in Cambodia may charge a combination of fees.

We’ll cover this in more detail in the sections below, but for now let’s look at another important factor – transfer speeds.

Transfer Speeds 

When you transfer money into Cambodia using brick and mortar banks, online service providers, Western Union, or Dee Money, it could take anywhere from minutes to hours to days to receive the money.

In general, Wise and Western Union are some of the faster services. Bricks tend to be slower, but they also tend to be cheaper.

This is because quicker transfer times equate to higher fees.

Transfer Options

When it comes to sending money to Cambodia, you have quite a few options.

Assuming you already have a bank account to transfer money into in Cambodia, here are your choices:

  • WorldRemit
  • Xendpay
  • Wise
  • International bank transfers
  • Western Union
  • PayPal
  • Cryptocurrency

With that said, let’s dive a bit deeper into each one.

WorldRemit

We’re starting off with WorldRemit because it’s the cheapest way to send money to Cambodia when using an online money transfer service.

Moreover, you can receive USD or KHR in the country, which you can’t do with Wise or Xendpay.

Depending on if you transfer using your bank, credit or debit card, in-person pick up, or mobile money, you’ll pay anywhere from USD22 to USD26 on transfers of USD999.

WorldRemit does have limits. Unfortunately, you can only send up to USD999 at a time into Cambodia.

So if you need more than that each month to cover your general monthly living expenses, your best bet is to go with a bank transfer.

Also, WorldRemit will charge you an exchange rate fee of around 1 percent to 1.5 percent. This fluctuates, so your best bet is to compare the exchange rate with XE.com’s mid-market rate.

Lastly, transfer speeds are quick with WorldRemit. Your money can hit Cambodia in a matter of minutes when using the mobile money option.

And if you choose to pick up your money in-person, you can do so at any Wing branch – assuming you have an account open with them.

Keep in mind, though, that Wing may charge an additional fee of USD0.25 to USD2.50 for this service.

With all that said, you can expect to pay around 2 percent to 3 percent in fees of your total transfer amount using WorldRemit. But you can also get KHR, which is more convenient than using USD day-to-day as an expat.

The only limitation to be aware of is the USD999 transfer limit on each transaction.

Xendpay

With transaction fees as low as 0.5 percent to 1 percent, Xendpay is just as cheap as WorldRemit when it comes to sending money to Cambodia.

But unfortunately, the service is not available to expats transferring into the country from U.S. banks.

What makes Xendpay also standout is its “Pay What You Want” feature, which lets you pick the transfer fee amount for transfers up to GBP2,000.

But unlike WorldRemit, you can’t send USD into Cambodia.

You must have a bank account outside of the U.S. and transfer that bank’s currency – like GBP or AUD. You will then receive USD on the receiving end inside Cambodia.

As for exchange rates, Xendpay offers fair and transparent rates, but don’t expect to get the mid-market rate you’d find on XE.

Xendpay scrapes a little from the exchange rate, averaging out to about one cent for every GBP transferred into USD.

They also tack an additional 2.3 percent to 2.5 percent charge on transfers made with personal and business debit and credit cards.

Lastly, keep in mind that because Xendpay considers Cambodia a “high-risk country,” you may need to take a few extra steps during your verification process before you can transfer cash into the country.

Wise

Wise (formerly TransferWise) prides themselves on the fact that they offer real-time exchange rates, which, according to XE, is correct.

That is, instead of offering slightly-lower exchange rates like Xendpay, they charge a transfer fee, which they do disclose upfront during the transfer process.

But unfortunately, this doesn’t make Wise your best choice when sending money to Cambodia.

In fact, they are the most expensive option for online money transfer service providers.

In addition to the disclosed transfer fees that Wise charges – which varies according to how much you transfer into Cambodia – intermediary banks will charge an additional USD10 to USD30 just to move your money from outside of Cambodia to inside the country.

This is the exact reason why many expats in Cambodia use WorldRemit or Xendpay to transfer money into the country.

ATMs

With all the fees banks and online money transfer providers charge, you may think it’s cheaper to withdraw cash from your home country’s bank account through an ATM in Cambodia.

But be aware, you’ll still incur all the fees mentioned above.

Withdraw rates from ATM’s in Cambodia vary from USD4 to USD6 depending on the bank you use, but here are a few examples below:

  • Canadia Bank: USD5 per withdrawal
  • Mekong Bank: USD5 per withdrawal
  • Maybank: Free withdrawals for US and European Visa/PLUS cards (USD4 to USD6 per transaction for the rest of us)
  • ABA: USD4 per withdrawal
  • ACLEDA: USD4 per withdrawal
  • Vattanak: USD4 per withdrawal
  • Cathay United: USD6 per withdrawal

With that in mind, if you have a bank account through TD Bank or Charles Schwab, you’ll be refunded on the ATM withdrawal fees you pay each month.

However, you’ll still pay hidden exchange rate fees of about 2 percent to 6 percent when using an ATM machine. But it’s best to check with your bank for exact fee amounts.

International Bank Transfers

You’ll probably use an online money transfer service to transfer small amounts into Cambodia, but if you’re sending thousands of dollars into the country, then it makes sense to use an international bank transfer.

We already mentioned the 0.10 percent transfer fee Canadia bank charges when you send money into the country.

This means you’ll only pay USD1.00 for every USD1,000 you transfer into the country. Moreover, Canadia bank’s exchange rates aren’t too far off from mid-market rates on XE.

Keep in mind, the bank’s website says the exchange rate can be decided at the time of your transaction – so pay close attention when getting to this stage of the process.

ABA is also another top choice among expats in Cambodia. And according to research and posts from other expats in the country, ABA only charges USD10 on all incoming money transfers.

This makes ABA another great option if you’re looking to send large amounts of money into Cambodia.

Here’s a few other banks that come highly recommended:

Western Union

Let’s look at how much you could pay in fees when sending GBP1,000 (to be converted into USD) to Cambodia through Western Union.

Having a close look at the final sum, the receiver only gets USD1,328.83, not the USD1,393 you’d get at the mid-market exchange rate on XE.

This means Western Union charges USD65 in hidden exchange rate fees.

If you’re in a bind and need money in Cambodia ASAP, then it might makes sense to use Western Union for their quick transfer times.

However, if you’re in no rush to receive the money, Western Union is best avoided because of the hidden fees.

Bitcoins and other Cryptocurrencies

Cambodia has released its own cryptocurrency (sort of) called Bakong.

As opposed to other cryptocurrencies, Bakong is not a digital currency. It is backed by actual money, meaning the amount of Bakong you have is a direct reflection of how much KHR you have.

It does, however, let people make instant mobile payments.

What it doesn’t do is let people exchange Bakong for other cryptocurrencies or cash.

What is the Best Method to Send Money to Cambodia?

Considering everything we’ve uncovered, for one-off or recurring transfers under USD1,000, WorldRemit is your best choice, as they charge the least amount of fees.

For anything larger than USD10,000, your best bet is to use a bank transfer, as you’ll pay a smaller percentage of fees.

For expats with bank accounts outside of the U.S., Xendpay would also be a good choice for larger amounts.

Lastly, unless you’re in a financial bind, avoid Western Union or Wise, as one doesn’t disclose exchange rates fees and the other deals with intermediary banks who charge anywhere from USD 10 to USD30 for online transfers.

With that said, the “best” method to transfer money to Cambodia honestly depends on your situation.

But to help you ever further, we’ll explore some country-specific recommendations in the next section.

Country-Specific Recommendations

If you’re from the U.S, Canada, the U.K., or Australia, here are the service providers we recommend when sending money to Cambodia.

But remember, check out Monito first so you can compare transfer speeds and fees. You might even be able to find a decent deal on the site.

United States

When sending money from the U.S., there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

First, money transfers over USD10,000 must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service by means of Form 8300.

Anything over USD3,000 may also be flagged as being suspicious, and this could entail extra paperwork and even delays.

For instance, one guy we know transferred USD6,000 from the U.S. through Wise, but he had to re-verify his account before he was able to go through with the process.

Considering all that, WorldRemit or a brick and mortal bank is your answer for the cheapest money transfers.

Canada

If you’re sending money from Canada to Cambodia, having a local Scotiabank account would be extremely beneficial.

When this bank is the receiving bank, funds are normally available sooner and the currency exchange rate is better.

Since Scotiabank has a partnership with MayBank in Cambodia, wire transfers from Canada to Cambodia could yield the lowest transfer fees.

If you need to go the online route, again WorldRemit is your answer.

United Kingdom

WordRemit is the perfect option for sending money from the U.K. to Cambodia since they offer the largest receiving sum on transfers under USD1,000.

Also MayBank has offices in the U.K., so, as mentioned above, if you send more than USD1,000, using MayBank may be more beneficial.

Australia

WorldRemit is perfect for sending money from Australia to Cambodia as well due to the low fees and fair exchange rates.

But if you want to go the brick and mortar route, ANZ Royal has branches in both Australia and Cambodia, which will make your international bank transfer hassle-free.

Now, on to You

Transferring money into Cambodia can be difficult for first-timers, but once you find out which service provider is best for your case, the next time you have to transfer money into the country it’ll be a lot easier.

With that said, we hope this article helps you determine which service is best for you, so that you can avoid paying the highest fees, and instead focus on getting the most bang, or KHR, for your buck.

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